The ‘Apple Pencil 3’ Could Also Work with the Vision Pro

Apple Pencil and iPad Credit: Daniel Korpai / Unsplash
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We already know there’s a new slate of iPads right around the corner — with accessories to match — but now a report suggests that the next generation of Apple Pencil may do more than just sit in a different spot on the iPad Pro.

The so-called “Apple Pencil 3” has been a long time coming, but if the latest rumors are true, next month’s new OLED iPad Pro and two-tier iPad Air lineup will also usher in a next-generation Apple Pencil that could bring some exciting new features.

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The most basic aspect of the new Apple Pencil is expected to be a new charging system to match a rumored camera change. Instead of magnetically attaching and charging on the long edge of the iPad Pro and iPad Air, as has been the case since its introduction in 2018, the new Apple Pencil will dock elsewhere — likely the short edge — to make room for a landscape camera, similar to what came to the 10th-generation iPad in 2022.

However, many of us are hoping that the new Apple Pencil will do more than that, and if you’re a Vision Pro owner, there could be a nice surprise coming.

Last week, a source told MacRumors that Apple has been internally testing an Apple Pencil with visionOS support to be used with drawing apps like Pixelmator and Apple’s own Freeform.

Details on the new stylus were initially vague, making it unclear whether it would be intended for use on a flat surface or work using gestures in mid-air. However, Patently Apple uncovered a new patent that suggests that Apple could be aiming for the latter.

The patent application was filed by Apple last September, although it wasn’t published until last Friday. While it doesn’t refer to the Apple Pencil by name, that’s not surprising as it uses typical patent lingo, describing an “input device” for a “virtual pointer,” it’s pretty clear what it’s talking about.

Apple’s invention generally relates to electronic devices, and more particularity to electronic devices such as computer systems that are used for generating virtual objects based on input from an input device, movement of the input device, translation of the movement of the input device to movement of a virtual pointer, and optionally an elasticity model.Patently Apple

Key to this application is something called an “elasticity model,” which is designed to account for drawing in a virtual space, ignoring smaller movements from things like the user’s hand shaking and introducing “a delay in the virtual pointer element while generating the virtual objects” to provide a more natural feel in a virtual environment. The patent also describes adding audible feedback to match the desired movements, which could be as simple as the scratching sound of a pencil on paper or chalk on a sidewalk.

As this is merely a patent right now, there’s no guarantee that this concept will ever see the light of day, much less that it represents what we might see in the next Apple Pencil. However, the dominos appear to be lining up for at least some synergy between the Apple Pencil and the Vision Pro.

Being able to use a stylus already feels like a feature that’s missing from the Vision Pro. With an Apple Pencil on the near horizon and visionOS 2.0 expected to be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in a few weeks, it wouldn’t be a big surprise if Apple had something planned here.

Nevertheless, none of the sources have been able to confirm if the upcoming Apple Pencil will support visionOS. It’s also not entirely clear how much needs to change in the stylus’ hardware to add this support; it would seem that visionOS will do most of the heavy lifting here, with the Apple Pencil merely needing some additional motion sensors and lower Bluetooth latency to accommodate it.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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